A pile of waste
It was in 1970 that an Aspen city council first asked the state of Colorado to hold off on the expansion of Highway 82 to four lanes so that they could study mass transit as an alternative to highway construction. Forty years later there will still be a traffic jam at the entrance to town – despite tens of millions of dollars in annual transit spending.
I first became involved in this peculiar competition between roads and transit in 1984 by volunteering to serve with a group called the “Traffic Committee,” a planning effort organized by the city of Aspen. In 1990, our recommendation for a new four-lane entrance to town was approved by the Aspen electorate, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was nearing completion, and Scott McInnis had secured a special appropriation from the state to begin construction.
What happened next, the history of why the new entrance was not completed either then or over the next 19 years up to today, is a microcosmic example of just about everything that currently doesn’t work in the governing process of the United States.
Understanding this one example of the total breakdown of our system serves as a primer for why so much cynicism exists regarding the point or purpose of participation, and provides a crystal clear example of why our country is bankrupt.
Beginning with the refusal by elected officials to honor the clear outcome of a perfectly reasonable electoral decision, and continuing through the corruption of federal oversight processes designed to protect the public from waste and mismanagement, transportation planning throughout the Roaring Fork Valley is totally compromised by the original sin of the Aspen City Council in 1991.
During the move to a new address in 1995, I discovered that I had acquired a stack of transportation planning materials nearly 6 feet high. This was not an exhaustive collection of everything which had been produced, just those reports, meeting handouts, newspaper clippings, and formal studies which I happened to keep. I threw away half of it and kept the rest. Eight years later I moved again, and got the stack back down to 3 feet by throwing away the additional 2 feet of material I had somehow acquired in the interim.
Two years ago, I decided it was time to condense the stack into a coherent narrative that documents the massive deception and waste which transpired from what should have been a straightforward improvement to the highway running between Basalt and Aspen.
A copy of this case study is available online at the entrancesolution.com website. Click on the “History” button near the lower right of your screen.
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